The last week has seen an extraordinary spat break out across social media all because it has been revealed that some vape stores are going to start stocking IQOS. Then a whole new level of stupid was reached by the (over) reaction from certain quarters to the news that the New Nicotine Alliance supports this move.
I have watched dumbfounded as people have declared open season on anyone who dares to show any kind of support for IQOS because (shock & horror) it is made by the tobacco giant PMI. I don’t recall seeing the same reaction to ecigs such as Ploom, Blu, Vype etc – all of which are owned by tobacco companies.
However, for some reason which defies all logic, the organisation which has borne the brunt of the criticism is the New Nicotine Alliance because they have openly supported IQOS.
Many others have also pointed this out, but I will say it again anyway. The hint is in the name. The New NICOTINE Alliance. It means precisely what it says. The NNA supports ALL forms of harm reduction products that contain nicotine. That includes vaping, snus, nicotine patches (yes, really) AND it includes IQOS. If it comes under the umbrella of HARM REDUCTION from lit tobacco, then the NNA will support it.
However, because IQOS is made by Philip Morris International Plc (a tobacco company), some self-righteous vapers have taken it upon themselves to openly abuse and troll the NNA.
I’ll admit that I have never tried the IQOS (I have tried the ecigs made by tobacco companies and found them vile). But some good friends of mine have tried the IQOS and found it to be quite palatable. I also know of a number of smokers (who did not like ecigs) who have tried IQOS and are also very impressed with it. Some of them have actually quit smoking altogether as a result of trying the IQOS.
The evidence-base around how much harm reduction is given by IQOS is still quite sparse. That is to be expected, it is a very new product. But we do already know enough to say with confidence that it is most definitely a harm reduction tool. The evidence-base around ecigs was also very sparse when they first appeared. I have been vaping for almost 8 years and even when I started vaping the evidence-base was sparse. However, right from the start, we always knew that ecigs were a tremendous harm reduction tool. We did not know how much harm reduction we were getting, we just knew they were working because we felt healthier and fitter with no adverse effects. Now of course, more than 10 years into the ecig story, the evidence base has grown exponentially in favour of ecigs – proving what we all knew all along, that ecigs are an effective harm reduction tool.
But it seems that some of the ‘vaping evangelist’ types out there are not prepared to give IQOS a chance because it is made by a tobacco company. The hypocracy is quite stark.
I do not recall anybody criticising the NNA when they announced that they were to challenge the snus ban in the ECJ.. In fact, the general mood was that the NNA had made a fantastic move by deciding to challenge the snus ban. Nobody made a fuss that the NNA was working with Swedish Match in the snus-ban challenge in the ECJ. But Swedish Match are also a tobacco company. Sure, they are not one of the big tobacco companies of the standing of PMI, but a tobacco company they are nonetheless. Lest we forget, snus is a smokeless tobacco product that is placed inside the mouth, and that is what Swedish Match’s main business is. However, Swedish Match also make Cigars. Yes, you read that right, Swedish Match make cigars – which are most definitely NOT a smokeless tobacco product. In fact Swedish Match have quite a large proportion of the American cigar market (just behind the three big players).
So, you can clearly see what I mean by hypocracy. Ecigs that are made by tobacco companies are fine. A heat not burn product made by a tobacco company is not. The NNA supporting a tobacco company (Swedish Match) to overturn a European Union snus ban is fine. The NNA supporting heat not burn product (IQOS) made by a different tobacco company is not.
Confused yet ?
Apparently, two of the biggest critics of the NNA (and of several prominent advocates) have been two Youtube Vape ‘Reviewers’ called ‘Vaping With Vic’ & ‘Empire Vape Co’. You can find an article of their outpourings here.
I have to admit that whilst I have been vaping for almost 8 years, I have never heard of either of these people. There are plenty of vape ‘reviewers’ out there that I have heard of, and even know, but I have never heard of these guys.
However, like a lot of the people they have chosen to criticise, I have been heavily involved in vape advocacy for many, many years. I have no doubt that many of you reading this article will be surprised to hear that because you will never have heard my name spoken in the same breath as the advocates that these reviewers (and their apparent supporters) have been attacking on social media.
However, I can assure you that I have done a LOT of advocating (as most of the other UK advocates will attest to). I have sat in front of a huge number of politicians, scientists, medical personnel, tobacco control people and public health people and argued the case for vaping. I have also been on countless demonstrations, flashmobs and protests against impending laws, legislations and bans. In all that time not ONCE have I ever seen any Youtube vape reviewer get up off their arse and actually advocate.
I can attest to the many HUGE sacrifices that advocates make on the behalf of millions of vapers across the UK, USA and the world. You will not find one advocate who has ever earned even a single penny from their advocacy. Similarly, those same advocates often give up huge amounts of their personal time, often taking time off work and thus sacrificing their holiday entitlements to advocate for ecigs. Advocating for ecigs also puts a great strain on families as an advocate is often called away (usually at short notice) to speak in front of some committee or another, or to help an organisation develop a sensible strategy/policy on vaping. Many advocates have paid a price with their health as a result of the strain that advocacy places upon them. One advocate was even placed in danger as a result of engaging in advocacy (but that is a story that will not be told here).
They all did all that because they believe in what they are doing and because nobody else was prepared to do it. So, before you people (and you know who you are) start shooting your mouths off at such advocates, just think about where the vaping scene would be without those advocates.
The advocates I refer to have been instrumental in stopping the worse parts of the TPD being enacted (none of the Youtube Vape Reviewers would have such channels now if the TPD had been enacted the way the EC originally envisaged because the EC wanted to BAN such channels). Those same advocates are the reason why such bodies as Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians openly support ecigs. Those same advocates are also the reason why UKCTAS, NiCE and many other health organisations have issued such ecig-friendly advice and policies. Those same advocates are the reason why bans on ecigs in public places have not been enacted in many countries around the world and those same advocates are your best ally and hope to stop any future detrimental ecig laws being enacted. Because those advocates have got themselves in to the corridors of power and are best placed to influence the decision-makers and law-makers/legislators from ever implementing bad laws around ecigs and vaping.
Those advocates have sacrificed a LOT so that you don’t have to. Those advocates are the biggest reason why you still have the choice to choose between using an ecig, an IQOS or (hopefully) snus. Think about that before you have a pop with ill-informed and misguided barbs and attacks in their direction. Because if you don’t you might find that the next time some ban on ecigs is proposed those same advocates will have walked away in disgust and the ban will come in unopposed.
If that happens you will have no-one to blame but yourselves.
If you want to use ecigs exclusively, that is your choice. If you want to use IQOS, that is also your choice. Just thank your lucky stars you have that choice. Don’t be like the ANTZ and start spouting ‘my way or the highway’. That’s not how freedom of choice works and, in my opinion, taking that kind of stance makes you no better than the likes of Glantz/Chapman/McKee’s of this world.